Snapchat is an image messaging and multimedia mobile application created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown when they were students at Stanford University. The app's marketed product name was originally used to form the company Snapchat, Inc., which was later renamed Snap Inc. The corporate headquarters are located in Venice, California. The prototype for Snapchat was started by Brown and Spiegel as a project for one of Spiegel's classes at Stanford, where Spiegel was a product design major. Beginning under the name "Picaboo", the idea was to create a selfie app which allowed users to share images that were explicitly short-lived and self-deleting. The temporary nature of the pictures would therefore encourage frivolity and emphasise a more natural interaction. When, in April 2011, Spiegel floated the product idea in front of his class as a final project, the classmates focused on the impermanent aspect of the potential product, and baulked at the thought of temporary photos. Murphy was eventually brought into the project to write the source code for the application, and Picaboo first launched as an iOS -only app in July 2011 from Evan Spiegel's living room (who was still staying at home with his father when not away at school). The application was relaunched two months later under the name Snapchat.
Snapchat evolved into a mix of private messaging and public content, including brand networks, publications, and live events such as sports and music. Nevertheless, according to survey studies conducted in March 2016, the personal oriented messaging was still being accessed by users more than the publicly offered content that was being presented. 71 percent of users surveyed said that they preferred the app for its chat, messaging, and imaging services, versus five percent who almost exclusively chose the various events, published features, and media content on a daily basis. twenty-four percent responded that they accessed all features equally. Notwithstanding about three quarters of those surveyed were additionally familiar with the events, media brands, and celebrity content, having a favourable opinion of those areas.
Snapbot launched its first pop-up vending machine location in Venice Beach on November 10, 2016.
According to documents and deposition statements, Reggie Brown brought the idea for a disappearing pictures app to Evan Spiegel because Spiegel had prior business experience. Brown and Spiegel then pulled in Bobby Murphy, who's experience coding. The three worked closely together for several months, straight through the initial product release, until Spiegel and Murphy decided to deny Brown further access a few weeks before relaunching the app as Snapchat.
Early on, the Snapchat team focused on usability and technical aspects, rather than branding efforts. An exception was the decision to keep a mascot designed by Brown, "Ghostface Chillah", named after Ghostface Killah of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.
On May 8, 2012, Reggie Brown sent an email to Evan Spiegel throughout their senior year at Stanford in which he offered to re-negotiate his equitable share regarding ownership of the company. Lawyers for Snapchat responded by insisting that he'd never had any creative connexion to the product. The attorneys additionally accused Brown of committing fraud against Spiegel and Murphy by falsely claiming to be a product inventor. On behalf of their clients, the law firm concluded that Brown had made no contributions of value or worth, and was therefore entitled to a share of nothing.
In their first blog post, dated May 9, 2012, CEO Evan Spiegel described the company mission: "Snapchat isn't about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It's about communicating with the full range of human emotion—not just what appears to be pretty or perfect." They present Snapchat as the solution to stresses caused by the longevity of personal information on social media, evidenced by "emergency detagging of Facebook photos before job interviews and photoshopping blemishes out of candid shots before they hit the internet".
In May 2012, 25 images were being sent per second and, as of November 28, 2012, users had shared over one billion photos on the Snapchat iOS app, with 20 million photos being shared per day. In November 2012, Spiegel cited problems with userbase scalability as the reason why Snapchat was experiencing a few difficulties delivering its images, known as "snaps", in real time. Snapchat was released as an Android app on October 29, 2012.
In December 2012, Snapchat added the ability to send video snaps in addition to photos. By holding down on the photo button while inside the app, a video of up to 10 seconds in length can be captured. After a single viewing, the video disappears by default. Spiegel explained that this process allowed the video data to be compressed into the size of a photo.
In February 2013, Reggie Brown sued chief executive officer Evan Spiegel and chief technical officer Bobby Murphy. Early investors were eventually named in the lawsuit. Brown said that he'd once been the chief marketing officer. Brown additionally claimed that he'd come up with the original concept, which he'd called Picaboo, and that he'd created the mascot logo for the product. Originally titled Toyopa Group, LLC, Brown said that he'd named the newly formed company as well. Brown's lawyers offered documentation of a collaboration with Spiegel and Murphy, but Snapchat described the lawsuit as meritless and called Brown's tactics a shakedown. During April's depositions, Brown testified that he'd believed he was an equal partner, and that he'd agreed to share costs and profits. Spiegel instead described Brown as an unpaid intern who's been provided valuable experience, and although Murphy claimed that he hadn't fully understood what Brown's role was supposed to have been, he too characterised Brown's involvement as having been that of an internship. Months later, Spiegel dismissed the lawsuit as an example of opportunists who seek out rapidly successful companies in an attempt "to additionally profit from the hard work of others".
In June 2013, Snapchat version 5.0, dubbed " Banquo ", was released for iOS. The updated version introduced several speed and design enhancements, including swipe navigation, double-tap to reply, an improved friend finder, and in-app profiles. The name is a reference to the ghostly hero from Shakespeare's Macbeth, a character in the play who's ultimately seen to be victorious over evil. Also in June 2013, Snapchat introduced Snapkidz for users under 13 years of age. Snapkidz was part of the original Snapchat application and was activated when the user provided a date of birth to verify their age. Snapkidz allowed children to take snaps and draw on them, but they couldn't send snaps to additional users and could only save snaps locally on the device being used.
In October 2013, Snapchat introduced the "My Story" feature, which allows users to compile snaps into chronological storylines, accessible to all of their friends. In December 2013, Emily White, who's formally been a high-profile executive with Facebook, Instagram, and Google, was hired as chief operating officer for Snapchat. Her tenure with the company ended in March 2015.
On May 1, 2014, the ability to communicate via video chat was added. Direct messaging features were additionally included in the update, allowing users to send ephemeral text messages to friends and family while saving any needed information by clicking on it.
On September 9, 2014, Snapchat's owners announced that they'd settled the lawsuit filed by fellow student and former friend Reggie Brown for an undisclosed amount. As part of the settlement, they credited Brown with the conceptual idea for Snapchat. The press release published by Snapchat's communication department quoted Spiegel:
"We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter in a manner that's satisfactory to Mr. Brown and the Company. We acknowledge Reggie's contribution to the creation of Snapchat and appreciate his work in getting the application off the ground."
In 2015, Snapchat acquired the start-up Looksery, an app which allows users to alter video images of themselves by utilising specific photoshopping graphics. According to Snapchat's published statistics, as of May 2015, the app's users were sending 2 billion videos per day, reaching 6 billion by November. By 2016, Snapchat had hit 10 billion daily video views.
In May 2016, the company leased 79,000 square feet of office space available at the Santa Monica airport to be used for at least five years. Also in May 2016, Snapchat raised $1.81 billion in equity offering, suggesting strong investor interest in the company. By May 31, 2016, the ephemeral messaging app had achieved almost 10 million daily active users in the United Kingdom.
In September 2016, the Snapchat software mobile application officially became part of a product company named Snap Inc., along with the introduction of the company's first hardware gadget, a pair of sunglasses with a built-in camera that can record 30 seconds of video at a time.
Snapchat is primarily used for creating multimedia messages referred to as "snaps"; snaps can consist of a photo or a short video, and can be edited to include philtres and effects, text captions, and drawings. A feature known as "Geofilters" was added in July 2014, which allows special graphical overlays to be available if the user is within a certain geographical location, such as a city, event, or destination. The "Lens" feature, introduced in September 2015, allows users to add real-time effects into their snaps by using face detection technology which is activated by long-pressing on a face within the viewfinder.
Snaps can be directed privately to selected contacts, or to a semi-public "Story". The private message photo snaps can be viewed for a user-specified length of time (1 to 10 seconds as determined by the sender) before they become inaccessible. Users were previously required to hold down on the screen in order to view a snap; this behaviour was removed in July 2015. The requirement to hold on the screen was intended to frustrate the ability to take screenshots of snaps; the Snapchat app doesn't prevent screenshots from being taken, but can notify the sender if it detects that it has been saved. Notwithstanding these notifications can be bypassed through either unauthorised modifications to the app or by obtaining the image through external means. One snap per-day can be replayed for free; additional replays can be purchased using microtransactions.
Friends can be added via usernames and phone contacts, using customizable " Snapcodes ", or through the "Add Nearby" function, which scans for users near their location who're additionally in the Add Nearby menu. Spiegel explained that Snapchat is intended to counteract the trend of users being compelled to manage an idealised online identity of themselves, which he says has "taken all of the fun out of communicating".
In July 2016, Snapchat introduced a new, optional feature known as "Memories". Memories allows snaps and storey posts to be saved into a private storage area, where they can be viewed alongside additional photos stored on the device, as well as edited and published as snaps, storey posts, or messages. Content can be searched by date or using a local object recognition system. Snaps accessible within Memories can additionally be placed into a "My Eyes Only" area that's locked with a PIN. Snapchat has stated that the Memories feature was inspired by the practise of manually scrolling through photos on a phone to show them to others.
Stories and Discover
"Stories" are viewed in chronological order, and each segment is accessible for 24 hours. By summer 2014, photo and video snaps presented to friends in the Stories functionality had surpassed person to person private snaps as the most frequently-used function of the service, with over one billion viewed per day—double the daily views tallied in April 2014.
In June 2014, the storey feature was expanded to incorporate "Our Stories", which was then changed to "Live Stories" about a year later. The feature allows users on-location at specific events (such as music festivals or sporting events) to contribute snaps to a curated storey advertised to all users. As a result, multiple contributors can be presenting the same event from varying viewpoints. These curated snaps provided by the app's contributors and selected for the "Live" section could additionally be more localized, but Snapchat eventually scaled back the more personal imaging streams in order to emphasise public events.
An "Official Stories" designation was added in November 2015 to denote the public storeys of notable figures and celebrities, similar to Twitter's "Verified account" program.
In January 2015, Snapchat introduced "Discover", an area containing channels of ad-supported short-form content from major publishers, including BuzzFeed, CNN, ESPN, Mashable, People , and Vice, among others. Advertisements are estimated to be seen 500,000 to 1,000,000 times a day. To address data usage concerns related to these functions, a "Travel Mode" option was added in August 2015. When activated, the feature prevents the automatic downloading of snaps until they're explicitly requested by the user.
In contrast to additional messaging apps, Spiegel described Snapchat's messaging functions as being "conversational," rather than "transactional," as they sought to replicate the conversations he engaged in with friends. Spiegel stated that he didn't experience conversational interactions while using the products of competitors like iMessage.
Rather than a traditional online notification, a blue pulsing "Here" button is displayed within the sender's chat window if the recipient is currently viewing their own chat window. When this button is held down, a video chat function is immediately launched. By default, messages disappear after they're read, and a notification is only sent to the recipient when they start to type. Users can additionally use messages to reply to snaps that are part of a story. The video chat feature uses technology from AddLive—a real-time communications provider that Snapchat acquired prior to the feature's launch. In regards to the "Here" indicator, Spiegel explained that "the accepted notion of an online indicator that every chat service has is really a negative indicator. It means 'my friend is available and doesn't want to talk to you,' versus this idea in Snapchat where 'my friend is here and is giving you their full attention.'" Spiegel further claimed that the Here video function prevents the awkwardness that can arise from apps that use typing indicators because, with text communication, conversations lose their fluidity as each user tries to avoid typing at the same time.
In March 2016, Fortune reported that Snapchat had acquired Bitstrips; the target of the purchase was its app Bitmoji, which allows users to design stickers featuring a personalised cartoon avatar. On March 29, 2016, Snapchat launched a major revision of the messaging functionality known as "Chat 2.0", adding stickers, easier access to audio and video conferencing, the ability to leave audio or video "notes", and the ability to share recent camera photos. The implementation of these features are meant to allow users to easily shift between text, audio, and video chat as needed while retaining an equal level of functionality.
In August 2016, Snapchat launched Geostickers, a new feature that lets users send city-specific stickers in snaps and messages. 15 Geostickers are available in San Francisco as of now. It will be launched in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Honolulu, London, Sydney, São Paulo, Paris and Riyadh.
From its earliest days, Snapchat's main demographic has consisted of millennials. In 2014, researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University designed a user survey to help understand how and why the application was being used. The researchers originally hypothesised that due to the ephemeral nature of Snapchat messages, its use would be predominantly for privacy-sensitive content including the much talked about potential use for sexual content and sexting. Notwithstanding it appears that Snapchat is used for a variety of creative purposes that aren't necessarily privacy-related at all. In the study, only 1.6% of respondents reported using Snapchat primarily for sexting, although 14.2% admitted to having sent sexual content via Snapchat at a few point. These findings suggest that users don't seem to utilise Snapchat for sensitive content. Rather, the primary use for Snapchat was found to be for comedic content such as "stupid faces" with 59.8% of respondents reporting this use most commonly. The researchers additionally determined how Snapchat users don't use the application and what types of content they aren't willing to send. They found that the majority of users aren't willing to send content classified as sexting (74.8% of respondents), photos of documents (85.0% of respondents), messages containing legally questionable content (86.6% of respondents), or content considered mean or insulting (93.7% of respondents).
The study results additionally suggested that Snapchat's success isn't due to its security properties, but because the users found the application to be fun. The researchers found that users seem to be well aware (79.4% of respondents) that recovering snaps is possible and a majority of users (52.8% of respondents) report that this doesn't affect their behaviour and use of Snapchat. Most users (52.8% of respondents) were found to use an arbitrary timeout length on snaps regardless of the content type or recipient. The remaining respondents were found to adjust their snaps' timeout depending on the content or the recipient. Reasons for adjusting the time length of snaps included the level of trust and relationship with the recipient, the time needed to comprehend the snap, and avoiding screenshots.
Snapchat has often been seen to represent a new direction in social media, with its users, particularly millennials, craving a more in the moment way of sharing and communicating via technology. With less emphasis on the accumulation of an ongoing status involving the presence of permanent material, Snapchat put focus on the ephemeral nature of fleeting encounters. Building on this distinction by launching as a mobile-first company, Snapchat, in the midst of the app revolution and the growing presence of cellular communication, didn't have to make the transition to mobile in the way additional competing social media networks had to do. Evan Spiegel himself described Snapchat as primarily a camera company. Spiegel additionally dismissed past comparisons to additional social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter when he was asked if the 2016 presidential race was going to be remembered as the Snapchat election, although major candidates did occasionally use the app to reach voters. Nevertheless, the growing mobile app moved to offer distinct publication, media, and news content within its Discover channel, as well as with its overall style of presentation. With Snapchat, a clear and identifiable line was drawn between brand content and user based messaging and sharing, once again distinguishing the popular app from additional social media networks, which typically have blended and blurred their different varieties of content.
Funding and valuation
Snapchat raised $485,000 in its seed round and an undisclosed amount of bridge funding from Lightspeed Ventures. By February 2013, Snapchat confirmed a $13.5 million Series A funding round led by Benchmark Capital, which valued the company at between $60 million and $70 million. In June 2013, Snapchat raised $60 million in a funding round led by venture-capital firm Institutional Venture Partners, and the firm additionally appointed a new high-profile board member, Michael Lynton of Sony's American division. By mid-July 2013, a media report valued the company at $860 million. On November 14, 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook offered to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion, but Spiegel declined the cash offer. Tech writer Om Malik then claimed on November 15, 2013 that Google had offered $4 billion, but Spiegel again declined. On December 11, 2013, Snapchat confirmed $50 million in Series C funding from Coatue Management. Four more funding rounds, from December 2014 to March 2016, amounted to approximately $1.2 billion and totaled funding at $1.36 billion. Beyond 2014, the company had achieved a valuation of $10–$20 billion, depending on the source. According to reports in May 2016, the company's estimated worth was said to be approaching $22 billion in the event of a new round of investment. Further reports in 2016 suggested that funding was almost at $3 billion and that Snapchat was targeting yearly revenues of a billion dollars.
Features added to Snapchat have been used to provide monetization; Snapchat's first paid advertisement, in the form of a 20-second movie trailer for the horror film Ouija , was shown to users on October 19, 2014. In addition to acknowledging Snapchat's need for a revenue stream, the company stated that it wanted to assess "if we can deliver an experience that's fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted."
The "Discover" feature, which presents short-form content from publishers, additionally allows for paid advertising. The entity that sells the ad campaign causes the revenue distribution between Snapchat and its partner to vary, but it is estimated that advertisements are worth ten to fifteen cents per view. Furthermore, advertisements are estimated to be seen 500,000 to 1,000,000 times a day.
In June 2015, Snapchat announced that it would allow advertisers to purchase sponsored geofilters for snaps; an early customer of the offering was McDonalds, who paid for a branded geofilter covering its restaurant locations in the United States.
In October 2015, Snapchat started working with companies to create sponsored Lens filters. In May 2016, as part of a campaign to promote X-Men: Apocalypse , 20th Century Fox paid for the entire array of lenses to be replaced by those based on characters from the X-Men series and films for a single day.
Ad placements can be sold within a live story, or a storey can be pitched by a sponsor. Live storeys are estimated to reach an average of 20 million viewers in a 24-hour span. In September 2015, the service entered into a partnership with the National Football League to present live storeys from selected games (including a Sunday game, and marquee games such as Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football), with both parties contributing content and handling ad sales.
Mary Meeker, a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which negotiated a financial agreement with Snapchat in August 2014, highlighted the growth of vertical video viewing in her 2015 Internet Trends Report – growing from five percent of video viewing in 2010 to twenty-nine percent in 2015. Vertical video ads like Snapchat's are watched in their entirety nine times more than landscape video ads.
In April 2016, NBC Olympics announced that it had reached a deal with Snapchat to allow storeys from the 2016 Summer Olympics to be featured on Snapchat in the United States. The content will include a behind-the-scenes Discover channel curated by BuzzFeed (a company which NBCUniversal has funded), and storeys featuring a combination of footage from NBC, athletes, and attendees. NBC will sell advertising and enter into revenue sharing agreements. This marks the first time NBC has allowed Olympics footage to be featured on a third-party property.
In July 2016, it was reported that Snapchat was pursuing a technical patent which would make it possible for the network to recognise particular objects appearing in snaps. This information could then be used by advertisers to target users with specific products matching a few of their personal interests.
Corporate renaming and diversifying
On September 22, 2016, the company renamed itself to Snap Inc., part of a move to diversify its business line into additional venues. Snap Inc. entered into the camera industry by introducing its first hardware product, a wearable glass called Spectacles, with limited shipping starting at around $130.
Privacy and security
December 2013 hack
Snapchat was hacked on December 31, 2013. Gibson Security, an Australian security firm, had disclosed an API security vulnerability to the company on August 27, 2013, and then made public the source code for the exploit on Christmas Day (Australian time; Christmas Eve in the US). On December 27, Snapchat announced that it had implemented mitigating features. Nonetheless, an anonymous group hacked them, saying that the mitigating features presented only "minor obstacles". The hackers revealed parts of approximately 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers on a website named "SnapchatDB.info" and sent a statement to the popular technology blog TechCrunch saying that their objective had been to "raise public awareness ... and ... put public pressure on Snapchat" to fix the vulnerability. Snapchat apologised a week after the hack.
Federal Trade Commission
In 2014, Snapchat settled a complaint made by the Federal Trade Commission. The government agency alleged that the company had exaggerated to the public the degree to which mobile app images and photos could actually be made to disappear. Under the terms of the agreement, Snapchat wasn't fined, but the app service agreed to have its claims and policies monitored by an independent party for a period of 20 years. The FTC concluded that Snapchat was prohibited from "misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy, security, or confidentiality of users' information."
Following the agreement, Snapchat updated its privacy page to state that the company "can't guarantee that messages will be deleted within a specific timeframe." Even after Snapchat deletes message data from their servers, that same data might remain in backup for a certain period of time. In a public blog post, the service warned that "If you've ever tried to recover lost data after accidentally deleting a drive or maybe watched an episode of CSI , you might know that with the right forensic tools, it's at times possible to retrieve data after it has been deleted."
In September 2015, an 18 year-old was using a Snapchat feature called "Lens" to measure the speed of her Mercedes c230, when she crashed into a Mitsubishi Outlander. The 107 miles per hour (171 km per hour) crash injured both drivers. The driver of the Outlander spent 5 weeks in intensive care while he was treated for severe traumatic brain injury. In April 2016, the Outlander driver sued both Snapchat and the user of Snapchat, alleging that Snapchat knew its application was being used in unlawful speed contests, yet did nothing of prevent such use.
A similar collision occurred in Florida in October 2016, killing five. 
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